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‘An expression of freedom from exploitation through art’


‘Community life of young girls from a de-notified tribe depicted through illustrations’

New Delhi, 16 September 2013: An art installation offering glimpses of the imagery of young girls from a de-notified tribe that practices intergenerational prostitution, using traditional motifs as well as contemporary visuals to capture the narrative journey of the community particularly of women is on display at the United Art Fair, Pragati Maidan, Delhi. Facilitated by Apne Aap Women Worldwide, the art piece exhibits ‘Folklore through the representations of Private and Public’ showcasing the social journey of the girls and women of the community towards empowerment. The art work will be on display from September 14-September 17, 2013 at Hall number 10, Pragati Maidan.

The multi-faceted art installation tries to capture their reality through visuals of community life and acts as a kaleidoscope that shares tales of their everyday lives and their constant struggles. With hopes and dreams to lead a life of dignity this group of six young girls created this multi-hued art piece in the form of a tent.

Speaking on the occasion, Ruchira Gupta, founder President, Apne Aap Women Worldwide (AAWW) said, “The tent depicts the safe space, whereas the highway and the trucks embroidered outside are the truckers who prey on the girls. The girls have used traditional Bihar appliqué embroidery method to tell the story of their lives”.

The participating artists are members of Apne Aap’s Self Empowerment Groups Kishori Mandal at Dharampura, Najafgarh. They were guided by Seema Kumari who teaches them appliqué work. These girls are in the process of empowering themselves through education, awareness of their legal rights and social entitlements and development of livelihood skills.

Ram Rahman, renowned photographer and part of United Art Fair’s curatorial team expressed his joy on Apne Aap Women Worldwide’s displaying their artwork in the United Art Fair, “I have seen Apne Aap Women Worldwide working dedicatedly towards the cause of women, both at their centres in Najafgarh and Dharampura wherein they just don’t empower women but also teach them vocational skills, like sewing and this applique work that is on display here. That is how I got this idea of combining their art work and develop it in the form of a tent which is unique, creative and doesn’t come across as regular applique work to the viewers”. He further added, “It is also a way of including these girls into a fair like this which acts as a way of breaking into different sections of society and also shows their creative streak”.

To the viewers this artwork presents cut-outs of trucks, cars or buses but for these girls these images are part of those nights where girls and women of their community went through cycle of exploitation. This art installation reflects the pain and trauma and the continuous abuse and injustice those women go through every day. It is heartening to see the depiction of Apne Aap as the tree which has given them shade under which they see themselves being set free and the rising sun as the prospect of a better future. The art-piece clearly represents their journey to break free from this cycle of exploitation and build a new life.

The intricate appliqué needlework not only strung together fabric, embroidery or motifs but also gives a deeper insight to the viewers as to how these young girls are under constant pressure and at risk of being pushed into prostitution and the consequences they face when they refuse to comply.

Dr. Abhilasha Kumari, Director Apne Aap Women Worldwide said, “Studies have shown how marginalized women experience some of the highest levels of violence in the world and how community-led responses to violence against women act as a bridge to reduce this violence from occurring. Our artwork today is one such statement that turns their story of life into a creative work of art that can be shared with all that view it, giving visibility to a world most of us hardly ever get a chance to see or experience. We should not only appreciate these young girls for their ability to visually articulate this reality but also enable others to engage with it and perhaps feel the need to do something to change it”.

The theme of the exhibit representing ‘Folklore: Private and Public’ reflects the different stages of the girls’ life and their journey in the form of a narrative tale. Using diverse and captivating symbolism where birds and flowers represent the girls, Apne Aap Women Worldwide as their shelter, highway and trucks as snakes and skeletons as the constant threat, this candid art display is a fresh and honest endeavor by these young girls to reach out to the society and tell their story.

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